Botanists to showcase economic, medicinal plants at UNILAG 2015
The theme for the conference – “Plants In An Ever Changing World” – aptly captures these global challenges that man must respond to as a matter of urgency for a better and secure future.
Chairman of the organizing committee and senior lecturer at the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Dr. Peter Adegbenga Adeonipekun, in a press statement said botanists and plant scientists as well as allied disciplines across and outside Nigeria are participating at this “August” scientific event.
Adeonipekun said a total of 260 abstracts (oral and poster presentations) have been received from Nigerian and foreign researchers, all covering the following all-encompassing sub-themes – (a) Medicinal Plants: the good, the bad, and the ugly; (b) Molecular Systematics: unraveling the differences between A and a; (c) Food Security and Safety: Plant Science to the rescue; (d) Plant and Climate Change; (e) Plant Diversity; (f) Myco-restoration and Phyto-restoration In Environmental Management; (g) Importance of Plants in Oil and Gas Exploration;(h) Forensic Botany; (i) Plant Physiology and Ecophysiology; and (j) Teaching Plant Biology.
The botanists said apart from the conference technical presentations, a pre-conference workshop on the following have been planned: a) DNA Barcoding Training, b) Algae: Commercial Cultivation. Nigerian and foreign experts are faculty members of these workshops aimed at disseminating the technological and scientific knowledge of the methodologies of techniques used in current scientific researches internationally.
Another important segment of this year conference, according to the statement, “is the exhibition of company products and services. Many alternative therapy/herbal medicine firms, pharmaceutical companies, horticultural outfits, government environment agencies, and environmental management companies have been invited to exhibit their products and services. Other plant-oriented allied outfits – private and public – have shown their interest at seizing this great opportunity of sharing not only their knowledge, but learning from other participants how to improve their products and services.”
Adeonipekun wrote: “A plant is any organism that photosynthesizes. Since the existence of the Earth about 4.7 billion years ago and even from biblical account of creation, plants have been playing significant roles in the lives of man and other animals. These roles are so basic that without plant other higher biological entities would not have survived. God had to create them (the plants) before animals and man were created in Genesis chapter One. From archaeological and ethno-botanical studies, animals, particularly humans have used plants not only as food, but also for shelter, clothing, medicine and other cultural activities such as rituals, music, weapons, construction of boats etc.
“Green plants are able to serve this basic role of food source because of a process they exclusively carried out – photosynthesis. This is the process through which green plants manufacture food by using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and water and inorganic salts from soil, in the presence of light from Sun, and chlorophyll present in the plants.
“Without plants, the world would not have been life-sustaining because of their essentiality for the existence of all kinds of life. Plants function: (i) as the only natural purifier of the atmosphere through the absorbance of carbon dioxide used in photosynthesis and releasing almost an equal volume of oxygen into it; (ii)as manufacturer of starch, main constituent of human food like cereals through the use of atmospheric carbon dioxide and water and inorganic salts from soil; (ii) as producer of oxygen for the atmosphere for animals to respire; (iv) as source of fiber for the garment industry, pulp for the paper industry, resin and wood material for the wood/furniture industry; raw materials for electrical and electronic industry; and organic raw materials in pharmaceutical companies etc. (v) ethno-botanically as raw materials for the manufacture of weaponry due to the poisonous extracts of some of them; (vi) as medicine for humans; (vi) as energy sources from fossil and extant plants.
“There is hardly any sector of human endeavors that does not benefit from these basic contributions of plants. With this significant importance of plants, the present socio-cultural challenges the world is passing through can best be mitigated through a re-appraisal of these life-given functions. Presently, the world is challenged by climate change, food shortage, energy crisis, over-population, environmental pollution and religious and tribal conflicts. Botanists and other plant scientists all over the world are in a vintage position to lead other scientists and thinkers on how to get the best from plants without destroying the environment.”
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